Officials call landfill fires arson

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, July 9, 2002

Investigators have determined that at least two of the three blazes that firefighters battled in a northern Suffolk landfill on Tuesday were deliberately set.

Approximately 30 firefighters from Suffolk, Chuckatuck, Carrollton, and Driver were called out to John C. Holland Enterprises, 3801 Nansemond Parkway, around 3:30 a.m. after a police officer driving past spotted flames shooting from the site, said Capt. Jim Judkins, spokesman for the Suffolk Fire Department. Three fires erupted before firefighters left the smoldering scene in the late afternoon.

Firefighters also spent this past Friday night at the landfill after a pile of construction debris caught fire. Investigators have said that fire started through natural causes, Judkins said.

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Firefighters arriving on the scene Tuesday discovered a 10,000-square-foot pile of stumps and other wood debris on fire, he said. Around the same time, firefighters saw a second fire about a quarter-mile away.

&uot;There is no way it is the same fire that was called in on Friday night,’ said Judkins. &uot;Those fires were in a completely different location. A rekindle has been ruled out.&uot;

Around 11:30 a.m. Tuesday, as officials were preparing to leave the landfill, a third fire on the east side of the landfill started, Judkins said.

Although the first two fires were set, the third blaze could have started from burning debris, Judkins said.

The fires at Holland’s are the latest in a string of fires at local landfills and salvage yards this month.

Fire investigators are still searching for leads on two separate tire fires that occurred on June 22 at the Southeastern Public Service Authority’s regional landfill on U.S. 58 and Suffolk Used Auto Parts, located at 900 Portsmouth Blvd.

He refused to speculate on whether the landfill fires are related.

&uot;The outward appearance makes it look like that but until we have real evidence that links them together, we are treating them all as separate incidents,&uot; Judkins said.

Anyone with information on any of the fires is asked to call the Suffolk Fire Marshal’s office at 923-2573.